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April 24, 2015

Happy Friday, friends!  I’m writing to you from the past (namely, Thursday) to tell you about our brand new acquisitions – Wild fish from Lake Malawi!  This is one of the most exciting times for us, to be able to acquire these fish from our suppliers.  This week, I’m going to focus on a few Mbuna and, next week, we’ll take a look at some Haps.  As a general rule, keep your Mbuna over a sandy substrate with plenty of complex rockwork and provide a diet high in vegetable matter, as an excess of protein can cause bloat.

We’ll start with the incredibly popular Metriaclima sp. “Gold Zebra” from Kawanga.  These absolutely lovely specimens are sunflower yellow with deep brown to black chins and bellies.  Their body is banded with brown-black as well, with bolder bands towards the fish’s head and face and narrower as they proceed towards the tail.  Their anal fin is brilliant sky blue with a hint of black and a cluster of four to five bright yellow egg spots.  An adult size of four to five inches, with males the larger of the sexes, dictates a 30 gallon minimum for one of these fish.  They can be highly aggressive and are best kept away from any similar looking fish such as other Gold Zebras or yellow Mbuna.  They are frequently found at depths in excess of 40 feet where plankton is abundant.  Dominant males and females graze heavily on biofilm, while subdominant males must vie for food in the plankton clouds.  These territorial males will claim a region of open sand between rockwork and construct a nest beneath an appropriately sized rock.  While OB females do occur, we’ve received brown females in this shipment.

Metriaclima Zebra Gold

Next, a fish we have frequently but rarely see wild specimens of:  Metriaclima sp. “Long Pelvic Mdoka”.  These are beautiful, sky blue fish with burnt sienna banding and brown faces.  The sienna continues as deep orange into their blue-white dorsal fins.  The long pelvic fins they are named for are the same deep orange with brilliant white leading edges.  Males of this species will grow to about five inches in size, making them one of the large Mbuna, particularly of the Metriaclima genus.  These fish are significantly less aggressive than the Gold Zebra and can be housed with other semi-aggressive Mbuna around the same size.

Metriaclima Long Pelvic Mdoka

Finally, we wanted to highlight a very, very unusual fish to see in the hobby – Metriaclima lanisticola.  These fish have remarkably stubby bodies, perfectly adapted to their unusual shell-dwelling manner.  They are even named for their tendency to nest in empty snail shells from the Lanistes genus.  Nevertheless, they are a maternal mouthbrooder despite being considered a “Shellie”.  These fish aren’t much to look at color-wise, often sporting grey flanks with dark barring and perhaps some iridescence, but a displaying male will show a pale blue belly and orange-red dorsal edge – to catch one of these stubby little fish in display is truly a treat.  Most specimens don’t grow much past two or perhaps three inches, making this special little fish a perfect candidate for a small Mbuna tank or species setup – a group could be housed very comfortably in a 40 breeder style tank.  The fish is non-aggressive to other species, though males may be a little territorial with each other – be sure to place plenty of shells for each to stake a claim!  Additionally, an interesting tidbit to this fish – they are considered a “cleaner” fish.  Any non-Mbuna fish that presents with fin fungus as associated with wounds caused by aggression or parasites will be graciously cleaned of fungus by M. lanisticola. 

Metriaclima lanisticola

With that, we’re done for the week with these three beautiful Mbuna.  I do hope you’ve enjoyed this and we’ll see you back next week for round two:  the Haps!

Thank you,

Jessica Supalla